This eye-catching book makes the complicated human body much less so while still providing enough detail to allow readers to...

PROFESSOR ASTRO CAT'S HUMAN BODY ODYSSEY

From the Professor Astro Cat series

Cartoon guide Professor Astrocat and his animal team take readers on an in-depth tour of the major functions and components of the human body.

Walliman and Newman have the astro-animals explore the body by using a cartoon version of Walliman himself as the subject. The book starts at the very beginning—what it means to be alive—and progresses with just enough detail through complicated structures and processes. The astro-animals use some fictionalized devices, such as a “ ‘particle reduction’ orb,” to shrink down and really get inside the body. It’s gimmicky but cute, much like the space-suited animals themselves. Overall, the book is very well-organized. Each page or double-page layout is limited to one topic. Newman’s illustrations are consistently bold and inviting, and the comic-book look both appeals to young readers and maintains the flow. Some pages do require time to decipher, as with a called-out detail with a cross-section of a tooth that feels dissociated from the overall spread. Fun factoids are included organically. A respectfully scientific approach to reproduction and growing up satisfies curiosity while allowing for follow-up conversation. The final “future science” pages will give eager readers plenty of fascinating topics for further research. Though subject “Walliman” is white, other humans depicted are diverse.

This eye-catching book makes the complicated human body much less so while still providing enough detail to allow readers to linger and explore. (combined glossary-index.) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-911171-14-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both.

FLASH FACTS

Flash, Batman, and other characters from the DC Comics universe tackle supervillains and STEM-related topics and sometimes, both.

Credited to 20 writers and illustrators in various combinations, the 10 episodes invite readers to tag along as Mera and Aquaman visit oceanic zones from epipelagic to hadalpelagic; Supergirl helps a young scholar pick a science-project topic by taking her on a tour of the solar system; and Swamp Thing lends Poison Ivy a hand to describe how DNA works (later joining Swamp Kid to scuttle a climate-altering scheme by Arcane). In other episodes, various costumed creations explain the ins and outs of diverse large- and small-scale phenomena, including electricity, atomic structure, forensic techniques, 3-D printing, and the lactate threshold. Presumably on the supposition that the characters will be more familiar to readers than the science, the minilectures tend to start from simple basics, but the figures are mostly both redrawn to look more childlike than in the comics and identified only in passing. Drawing styles and page designs differ from chapter to chapter but not enough to interrupt overall visual unity and flow—and the cast is sufficiently diverse to include roles for superheroes (and villains) of color like Cyborg, Kid Flash, and the Latina Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz. Appended lists of websites and science-based YouTube channels, plus instructions for homespun activities related to each episode, point inspired STEM-winders toward further discoveries.

Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-382-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

OIL

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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